Yes, it hurt. After setting the all time Dallas Cowboys record for passing yards and completing five touchdown passes, Tony Romo made the only bad throw of the afternoon and gave Peyton Manning the chance he needed to snatch a Denver Broncos vicotory.
But if you are going to start talking about how Romo blew the game, just stop. The team would not have been tied at 48 all with 2:39 on the clock except for an incredible performance by him and it looked like he was bumped on the throw. That is not an excuse but this was only the second interception of the season. If Dallas is going to turn this season around, it will have to ride his arm.
And the chances for the Cowboys are very good. Dallas is tied with Philadelphia for the lead in the NFC East. The only teams the Eagles have been able to beat are the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. And Dallas plays Washington at home and Philadelphia away the next two weeks. If they do win those two games they will be in the lead and in control.
That is not a given, of course. Obviously the Dallas defense was ragged at best, although they did force two turnovers and at least slowed Manning and company down, allowing the Cowboys to outscore the Broncos 28-6 during one run in the third and fourth quarters. Most importantly the team never quit, even when Denver overcame a 14-0 deficit to take a 35-20 lead halfway through the third.
Dallas will not face Peyton Manning again, unless it is in February. And there is no question that Eli's older, more talented brother is having a record setting year. While the defense is having more than a few problems with poor coverage and a badly depleted line it is still giving all it has. And the offense certainly found its groove. Terrance Williams had a breakout game with 151 yards, 82 of it on a beautiful touchdown, and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten also were over 100 and in the end zone. And Cole Beasley showed that he is a dangerous slot receiver, adding 47 yards and a nifty score on a screen pass that worked to perfection.
Pass protection was generally good. Romo was sacked four times but they were largely due to him holding the ball a long time trying to make a play. DeMarco Murray showed some flashes, including a touchdown run, but you can't use a methodical running attack when you are in a scoring contest with Manning.
With the patchwork nature of the defensive line and the vulnerability the team clearly has in the middle of the field against a good passer, the offense is going to have to carry the day. The good news is that it showed against the Broncos that it is very potent. If Dallas can play the way they did against the Broncos there are not many teams in the league that can keep up with them.
The race is on. This was a difficult loss to stomach but it does not mean that the Cowboys are in real trouble. They still have a lot of games to play and the weakest division in the NFL to win to get to the playoffs.
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